Half in Love with Death
by Emily Ross
Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: December 18th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Rate: 3.5 stars
It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.
Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again.
Inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, Half in Love with Death is a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.
When my all time favorite quote is used in a book, I get my hopes up. I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, rather that it just took way longer than I would have liked for the story to get to page-turning status. Although written in a hauntingly beautiful voice, Half In Love With Death suffers from a pace that lacks the grip I expect in a psychological thriller. More atmospheric, like the Virgin Suicides, with less mystery. I certainly found Caroline to be a sympathetic, realistic character, trying to make sense of a situation no one really knows the truth about. The aloofness her parents displayed was thoroughly explained, and in that regard I understood it, but it irked me none the less. I also found the setting to be lacking, I didn’t feel immersed in the time period, it felt like the author just kept pointing out tidbits to remind us this was in a different era, like mentioning the Beatles every other chapter or describing the clothes different people were wearing. What I enjoyed most was the lyrical prose sprinkled throughout the book, almost like little morsels tucked away that you could go back to satisfy a craving for wondrous words. Ross certainly has an enormous amount of potential and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
Some of my favorite quotes from HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH (including the one mentioned above so you’ll know what I’m talking about.)
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.” -from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake
“She didn’t understand that events like sunset and darkness falling wouldn’t wait for her to get her makeup right.”
“And when our eyes met, his loneliness became a part of me. It was love.”
“And then I thought, what was a ghost anyway but a shadow of something that was, and since we were changing every minute of every day, weren’t we all ghosts of ourselves…”
“Each moment was like a petal peeled away from a cold flower. I was afraid of what I might learn but at the same time I had to know.”
Emily Ross’s YA mystery/thriller HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH is forthcoming from Merit Press(12/2015). She received a 2014 MCC Artist Fellowship finalist award for fiction, and is a graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program. When not writing she works as a web developer and is the mother of two millennials. Find out more at http://www.emilyrosswrites.com/ or https://twitter.com/emilyross816.